U.S. Economy Surged 5.9% in Q4

Increase in exports, private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment offset declines in spending by consumers and the federal government.

Stronger than previously estimated and beating market expectations, the economy grew a robust 5.9% in the fourth quarter of last year, revised government data showed on Feb. 26.

Growth in gross domestic product -- a broad measure of the country's goods and services output -- initially had been estimated at a 5.7% annualized rate compared with the third quarter of 2009.

The powerful surge in the October-December quarter remained the strongest since 2003 and followed a 2.2% in GDP in the third quarter, the first economic growth after four consecutive quarters of contraction.

The acceleration in GDP growth largely reflected increases in private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment and exports that more than offset declines in spending by consumers and the federal government, the Commerce Department said.

Inflation remained tame, with the GDP price index revised down 0.2 percentage points to 1.9%. Prices rose 1.3% in the third quarter.

"Core" inflation, excluding food and energy prices, climbed 1.3% following a 0.3% rise in the third quarter.

Consumer spending increased 1.7%, slowing from a 2.8% rise in the third quarter.

For the full-year 2009, the Commerce Department said the economy contracted an unrevised 2.4%, the worst performance since 1946, due to the collapse in economic activity in the early part of the year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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